The ketogenic or “keto” diet, which involves consuming very low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of fats, has been gaining popularity. However, a new study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology suggests that a “keto-like” diet may be associated with higher blood levels of “bad” cholesterol and a twofold heightened risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain (angina), blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes.
Our study found that regular consumption of a self-reported diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat was associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol— or “bad” cholesterol—and a higher risk of heart disease. To our knowledge, our study is one of the first to examine the association between this type of dietary pattern and cardiovascular outcomes.”
Iulia Iatan, MD, PhD, attending physician-scientist at the Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic, St. Paul’s Hospital and University of British Columbia’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation in Vancouver, Canada, and lead author of the study
Carbohydrates are the body’s first “go-to” source for fuel to provide energy for daily life. Low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diets, like a keto diet, restrict consumption of carbohydrates (e.g., bread, pasta, rice and other grains, baked goods, potato products such as fries and chips, and high-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables). By depriving the body of carbohydrates, it is forced to start breaking down fat for energy instead. The breakdown of fat in the liver produces ketones, chemicals that the body uses as energy in the absence of carbohydrates—hence the name ketogenic, or “ketone producing.” Proponents of a ketogenic diet generally suggest limiting carbohydrates to 10% of total daily calories, protein to 20% to 30% and obtaining 60% to 80% of daily calories from fat.
Some previous studies have shown that an LCHF diet can lead to elevated levels of LDL cholesterol in some people. While elevated LDL cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease (caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol in the…